Illini 'evaluating' Cook after injury in exhibition game rout of Truman State

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CHAMPAIGN — Makira Cook walked over to the Illinois bench with six minutes left in the second quarter of the team's exhibition game against Division II opponent Truman State.

The Big Ten preseason guard had been called for a foul nine seconds earlier, and Cook glanced at Illini coach Shauna Green after exiting the game before sitting down on the bench.

Cook never returned to the game — playing only 11 minutes, 17 seconds — and spent the entire second half in the locker room, as Illinois rolled to a 121-60 win against the Bulldogs on Monday night in front of an announced crowd of 2,598 fans at State Farm Center.

Green didn't really go into specifics postgame about the nature of Cook's injury.

"They're evaluating her right now, so hopefully we'll have a better feel, maybe (Tuesday) or later on (Monday night)" the Illini coach said. "I just know she got hit. She got hit and I have to see it. I took her out a couple plays after that. And then (head women's basketball athletic trainer) Autumn (Taylor), I think, said, 'Hey, we're going to keep her out.' Again we'll re-evaluate. Hopefully it's nothing obviously too bad and we can get her back."

The 23rd-ranked Illini open the 2023-24 season with a home game on Nov. 7 against Morehead State.

The way Illinois played in its first game before a live audience had its ups and downs. The Illini had no problems scoring the ball, with eight players in double figures, including Cook, who finished with 10 points on 3 of 6 shooting (3 of 4 from beyond the arc) before leaving the game.

Senior guard Genesis Bryant led Illinois with 18 points, while fifth-year guard Jada Peebles had 15 points off the bench and Kendall Bostic produced 14 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. But it was the lack of attention to detail on the defensive end that drew the ire of Green, particularly in the first quarter when Truman State shot nearly 70 percent from the field.

"That's where again, even though we're making shots, I told them at halftime, 'I think I could have went out and scored 30 (Monday night),'" said Green, still the all-time leading scorer at Canisius College. "Don't laugh, I've still got it, but what I care about is their defense."

Illinois stuck with its same starting five — Cook, Bryant, Adalia McKenzie, Brynn Shoup-Hill and Bostic — from last season's 22-10 team that reached the NCAA tournament

That meant the Illini opted to bring North Carolina State transfer Camille Hobby off the bench. The 6-foot-3 fifth-year senior center had 12 points.

"It's just been very intentional in practice," Hobby said. "Kendall and I work well together. In the summertime, KB was really helpful to me, trying to learn the system and getting used to a lot of different things."

Also, on the newcomer front, Gretchen Dolan got an extended run off the bench on Monday night. The 5-11 freshman guard played nearly 20 minutes and scored 11 points.

"She's deceptively very quick with her first step," Green said. "She obviously can shoot the ball. I'm so excited about Gretchen."